Why the key to success is trying again tomorrow
I broke every single one of my own rules, but I still succeeded. Here's why
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a list I wrote on my phone in late 2018 when I was preparing to quit my full-time job to go freelance. I was on a long-haul flight for work so I had a bit of time on my hands and this was a way of reassuring myself it was the right thing to do. Here goes that list:
As of 10th September 2018, you are *certain* that Single Bald Female will be published in 2020 and you will get an agent and a publishing deal in 2019. This is all you need to believe in right now.
Quitting your job is a risk – of course it is – but you will feel better for having taken that risk. You have been thinking about this for a long time. You won’t regret doing it; you might regret not doing it.
You will find ways to make money – you always have.
This will give you the freedom to take care of your health and manage your own time like you never have before.
It might make you more antisocial but you’ll make friends this way too.
Give it six months to make it work. If it doesn’t work, give it longer, but if you don’t want to, get a job.
Underneath this little manifesto-to-self, I had written a list entitled The Rules:
Get up every morning and get dressed; brush teeth.
Leave the house *every* day.
Swim four times a week; walk or run on the other days.
Book a PT session and try some weights.
Go to central London once a fortnight; get out of London once a month.
Meet up with someone at least once a week.
Cook a new recipe every fortnight.
Organise your office; create a writing space that is healthy – not just the sofa.
Buy some plants.
Join some local groups.
Call someone for a chat once a week.
Be part of a writing group.
Go on a writer’s retreat once a year.
Start writing your next book.
Check Instagram and Twitter twice a day only. Be strict!
Switch off your phone at 9pm.
Do some writing each morning before switching on your phone.
Give yourself a break. Think of what your friends would say to you in the situation.
If you feel depressed, sad, worthless or unproductive, read a magazine or a book and *switch off your phone*.
Take weekends off.
Get the windows cleaned.
Write someone a letter, once a month.
Spoiler alert: I broke *every single one* of the rules (honestly, what freelancer gets dressed every day?) But, in general, I followed them. And that’s why I don’t believe in resolutions – if you give up on something as soon as you fail, you’ll never succeed.
The key to success is trying again the next day – giving yourself a break and acknowledging it’s fine to have an off-day, as long as you stick to the overall goal, which for me was crystal clear. Rules, lists and goals needn’t be written in January or at the start of a new school year or new job; in fact they should probably be made when you feel like you’re losing your way.
I did get an agent and a book deal in 2019. Single Bald Female wasn’t published in 2020, but that’s because I didn’t yet know about the long lead times in publishing, or that Brexit and a pandemic would throw a few spanners in the works. My novel has just been published in Germany and will finally be out in the UK next month, and it feels like the right time.
These last few years have been hard, particularly as the pandemic hit in my first year as a freelancer, but I don’t for one second regret quitting my job to take a punt on my dreams, and I’m glad I believed in myself and pushed as hard as I could.
What are you aiming for right now, and how do you plan to achieve it? Drop a note below.
A rundown of the simple things I’m enjoying right now.
Some books I’ve been raving about:
— One Good Thing by Alexandra Potter. My fellow Yorkshire author’s last novel, Confessions of a Forty Something F**k-Up, was so popular it’s being made into a TV series, and I happen to think this book is even better. Liv is a divorcee who retreats to the Yorkshire Dales to rebuild her life with the help of a lonely old man, a mistreated dog and an adorable little boy who is anxious about the world. It’s out 28th April.
— Wahala by Nikki May. Thirty-something British-Nigerian girlfriends Simi, Ronke and Boo are navigating the usual challenges of being women in their thirties, from their careers to motherhood and marriage, when a fourth friend arrives on the scene and shakes things up, big-time. I couldn’t put this book down, and it helped that Nikki is as obsessed with food as I am. Out now.
— The Pyjama Myth: The Freelance Writer’s Survival Guide by Sian Meades-Williams of Freelance Writing Jobs newsletter fame. Whether you’re pondering quitting your day job to go freelance or you’re several years in and still spending 90% of your week chasing payments, this book will sort you right out. Out 17th March.
Some nice things I’ve been eating:
— Mushroom parfait on toast at the new Fallow in St. James’s Market, London. Chefs Jack Croft and Will Murray worked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and have recreated the iconic Meat Fruit chicken liver parfait in vegetarian form. It is phenom.
— Baked beetroot on Jerusalem artichoke cream at Remi in Berlin, where I went to celebrate the launch of the German translation of my debut novel, Single Bald Female. Despite the obvious flatulence issues, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Jerusalem artichoke since I discovered it when recovering from breast cancer a decade ago.
— Tonkotsu X at Kanada-Ya on Carnaby St, London (pictured above). If there’s anything more soothing than a good bowl of ramen, I’d like to know.
My debut novel, Single Bald Female, is out in the UK on 14th April. Inspired by my own experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 29, it follows magazine journalist Jess as she deals with the fall-out from breast cancer and a break-up. It is described as ‘Dolly Alderton meets The Fault in our Stars for grown-ups,’ and I didn’t even write that myself. You can pre-order it here and really make my day.
Some nice things that people have said about Single Bald Female:
— 'A wonderful debut . . . moving and beautiful' - Emma Gannon, The Hyphen.
— ‘Life-affirming’ - Kris Hallenga, author of the brilliant Glittering a Turd.
— 'Whether you've experienced cancer, grief, the chaos of the contemporary dating scene or the agony of a modern hen weekend, every word of Single Bald Female rings true' - Lauren Bravo, journalist, author and all-round excellent human.
— ‘It’s wonderful, Laur. And I only found 6,000 typos’ - my mum.
About Doughnuts for Breakfast
Inspired by a line in my debut novel, Single Bald Female, Doughnuts for Breakfast is a newsletter about the simple things that make us happy. Whether it’s indulging in a hot cup of tea and a custard doughnut before nine a.m. or quitting your job to follow a lifelong dream, this newsletter will inspire you to pursue the things that bring you joy.
My name is Laura Price and I’m a cat mum, journalist and author of Single Bald Female, out 14th April (did I mention you can pre-order it?). I’m a novelist by day and a food writer by night, so this newsletter will contain a healthy sprinkling of content about food and books, as well as musings on love, friendship, work and health. You can opt in or out at any time.
Disclaimer: In the portrait above, I had slapped on lipstick and trudged across London, sweating profusely, for a photo shoot with the very patient Krishanthi Puwanarajah. On a normal day, I can be found make-up-less in my activewear, invariably buried beneath a pile of cats.
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I'm good thanks Laura and hope you are keeping well. At my apartment in Turkey this week to sort a couple of things out.
Thanks Laura. By the way, I haven’t been Mr Downs since July 2002! It’s Steven now!😂